Scandal, and Speaker Pelosi’s Defiance

In reference to Nancy Pelosi receiving Communion in a Papal Mass – although not by the Pope – along with an all-smiles photo-op with the Holy Father, allow me simply to offer some thoughts that may help.

Some have implied that Ms. Pelosi has been banned from Communion only ‘in her own diocese’ and ‘by her own bishop’. This is not quite true. The penalty placed upon her is not a geographical one, but spiritual, applying to the (possible) state of her soul, and the scandal given, by her unconditional and unlimited support for the legal right to murder the unborn. Hence, unless another prelate or priest perceives a fundamental and grievous injustice in Archbishop Cordelione’s prohibition, they too are bound to forbid her Communion. After all, he is her pastor, and, as such, has the primary right and obligation to guide her soul to heaven, and away from hell, which is what this is ultimately all about.

And while we’re on the note of scandal: Saint Thomas (ST, II-II. Q.43, a.1, ad 4) distinguishes the active from passive types. In active scandal, we do something that leads another person into sin. In passive scandal, we are led into sin by something someone else does or says. Perhaps counter-intuitively, active scandal is not always a sin, but passive scandal is. We may do something quite good, and necessary, at which another wrongly takes offence, such as holding a pro-life sign at the March for Life that drives someone pro-abortion into frothing anger. Even a kind and charitable word, an apology, can be taken the wrong way.

Passive scandal, on the other hand, is always a sin, for we have always some control over what our will commands, or does not command. We need never be led into sin, which is to some extent our choice.

(That said, we should distinguish such passive scandal from simply being forced to commit a grievous act, or one done in invincible ignorance, which may have no sin at all).

All this to say, don’t be scandalized, even if we might rightly balk, even shudder, at Ms. Pelosi’s defiance, along whatever be the Pope’s complicity, witting or unwitting. While offering up what prayer and reparation we might, in the end, we close the curtain on such a debacle, leaving each soul ultimately to God, into whose judgement, as the Letter to the Hebrews warns, it is a terrible thing to fall.